“Read the daily slip opinions,” our bosses and mentors tell us. Though universal and sage, this advice does us little practical good until we also learn to use the slip opinions in our practice. This article provides some tips to craft your first motion from the slip opinions (and other case law) that you read.
What’s (in) a Motion?
A motion is any request to a court for a specific ruling or order. These requests can range from the relatively mundane (e.g., motions for an order on excludable delay under 18 U.S.C. § 3161) to critical (e.g., motions to dismiss, motions to suppress key evidence, motions for judgment of acquittal).
Motions need not fit any specific mold, although they frequently fall within certain well-recognized categories. One of the challenges for someone drafting his first motion is how best to fit an issue into one of these categories.